Some Notions about the Island of Ceylon: Late 18th century, a French naturalist discovers Ceylon (manuscript completed in 1801) by Eudelin de Jonville



We believe that this book is of a significant importance for Sri Lankan readers and scholars and for Sri Lankan History in general.

Very few first hand accounts have been written on Ceylon during the early British period (and even before at the notable exception of Robert Knox account) and definitively not by a knowledgeable and kind scholar like Jonville.

Eudelin de Jonville comes to the Island of Ceylon in 1798 as a naturalist and a member of the administrative staff recruited by Frederick North, first British governor of the new colony.

Eudelin is a man of culture, full of intelligent curiosity. During the seven years he spends in Ceylon he travels, investigates, questions, counts and measures, draws, paints, and, above all, writes an astonishing manuscript that he sends for publication (a vain hope) to his brother in Europe.

A manuscript which lays forgotten in the immense collections of the British Library; a copy, or a rough draft hidden in a chest of the Colombo Museum in Sri Lanka – a text a last published for the pleasure of today readers who will explore this tropical paradise in the company of an eager, passionate, open minded French naturalist of the late 18th century.

Most of the accounts we have come from soldiers, priests, hunters, etc.

This makes a big difference as you will see when you will read this book : Jonville studies methodically and impartially and don’t make judgement. He is a very open and curious mind and studies all fields possible as he is familiar to many : geology, astronomy, flora, fauna, mineralogy, etc.

He is an exceptional brilliant universal scholar.

He is also gifted with languages and speaks fluently many beside English and French : Italian, Portuguese, Greek, Turkish, etc.

There are also several drawings and sketches included in the manuscript and almost 200 watercoloured plates are annexed to it. We have reproduced some of them in black and white in the text and in colour in at the centre of the book.

Enclosed are some PDF images (and some .JPG images which are smaller) of the book so you have an idea of what it is.


Launching at the BMICH on the 22nd of June at 5:00 p.m.

Book title: Some Notions about the Island of Ceylon

Author : by Eudelin de Jonville

Sub-title : Late 18th century, a French naturalist discovers Ceylon

Transcription from the unpublished manuscript, introduction and notes by Philippe Fabry

Documentation, research and biography of Jonville by Marie-Hélène Estève

Format : 17 x 24 cm

Cover : 4 colours matt laminated with flaps

432 pages including 16 pages colour illustrations

In English and original text in French

28 € (euros) LKR 2,900 in Sri Lanka only

ISBN 978-955-8736-10-4

Published by Viator Publications, Sri Lanka

Available in all bookshops or contact Perera Hussein Publishing House 80 A, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 07

+94 11 485 89 72

Do not hesitate to call Philippe Fabry at any time for further information: 0777 318 918